I belong to the ‘Recovered from Breast Cancer’ Team. It is now over 12 years since I went through my journey with breast cancer. Here are some thoughts:
How was it discovered?
A lump appeared on my right breast in 2006 and at that point I was a very fit and active marathon runner who had never had a days illness before. So naturally I believed it must be a blocked milk duct as that had occurred during my first pregnancy and stupidly never thought to get it checked.
Roll on to January 2007 when I finally did make the appointment, saw the Doc and waited for the appointment to see the local Breast Clinic on the southside of Glasgow. From then on, everything happened very quickly. I got the appointment at beginning of February, had the examination, mammogram, then a biopsy was taken. Funnily enough all the women who had been sitting waiting for results all seemed to be taken before me and this sort of ‘dread feeling’ started to fill my stomach.
I was then taken into the room by a Breast Cancer nurse who stayed and the Doctor then told me the biopsy confirmed that it was breast cancer and they would operate very soon.
What was the shock like?
The shock was life changing. I kept thinking….how did I get breast cancer. My mother never got it. Didn’t have any sisters and didn’t know of any of my mum’s sisters who got it. I was a vegetarian, a keep fit fanatic, didn’t smoke and not much of a drinker?? What the hell had happened? And being self-employed – couldn’t take time off work. I mentioned this to the Doctor who agreed to give me 3 weeks to organise my work and family to get me in and perform the lumpectomy.
How did I cope?
From the day I was told, I knew I had to do something to keep me sane, keep me strong and keep me able to look after my two sons. I had always been able to visualise in my head – and started to search for something to help me.
I found it in a book written by the motivational speaker Jack Black – Mindstore, which taught self help tools in the form of visualisation. So every single morning before the op I awoke and visualised I went into this super shower. Out of the shower head with the water came happy, healthy, muscly strong cells flowing through my head, travelling throughout my body, kicking ass and getting rid of all the cancer cells , making all my body tissue strong and healthy again.
This was a great tool for me and kept my thinking strong that I would get through this ‘blip’ in my health.
I am lucky to have a number of close friends who I sat down the Saturday before I was to go into the hospital on the Monday for my first op. Funny story happened when I sat them down, around 6 of them, and told them I was going to tell them something very serious. They all looked at me and one of them blurted out ‘God you’re not pregnant are you!’ With that I couldn’t help but smile and then said the dreaded news. ‘Unfortunately I’ve got a lump in my breast that has been diagnosed as cancerous.’ Well that shut them up!
I had always been the nagging girlfriend about exercise, nutrition and skincare. Here I was, the first of my peers to get breast cancer. After the shocked faces and some crying, I then asked my friends to never send me a get well card or feel sorry for me. You see, everyone is different. My nature hates to be a victim of any kind and therefore hates people to feel sorry for me.
Laughter is the best medicine
I had read the stories and articles about how laughter can change the chemicals in your body, producing the happy hormones that enable your body to help heal itself. Laughter is known to boost the immune system, decrease the stress hormones and increase infection-fighting antibodies. So I asked my pals to send me funny texts every day, buy me a funny book or movie that was going to make me double up with laughter. Hopefully healing my body at the same time.
Music to my ears
At the time my iPod was what i used to listen to music, my son Pete made a few playlists. This was to be a treasure to me for the several stints in hospitals that were forthcoming. I could plug in the earphones and forget about everything, just listening and falling asleep to great music.
3 ops in total
The first lump was taken out in February and it turned out to be Stage 2 breast cancer. This was relating to the female hormone oestrogen. However there was still some doubt that the surgeon had got it all. Another lump was taken out 3 weeks later. Again, there was some dubious cells showing, the final op was to be in another 3 weeks. This was the mastectomy and reconstruction.
How am I today 12 years later?
I am fantastic! That’s what I like to say when people ask ‘how are you?’
What I have learned is this….every single day of your life is to be treasured. I learned 12 years ago to be so thankful that I was a lucky woman who had survived breast cancer. It changed my life in that every day I wake up, I say ‘thank you’ to the universe. I say it probably a hundred times a day. Even when things seem tough and everyone of us goes through ‘crap’ in their life. You’ll see me walking my little dog Snow first thing in the morning and maybe you’ll hear me saying ‘Thank You!’
I was given a gratitude journal shortly after having breast cancer. It seriously was one of the best gifts I have ever been given.
Last word…. if you wake up with a lump in your breast, even if you feel well and fit, go get checked by the Doctor. I hope you enjoyed my journey with Breast Cancer & God Bless x
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